November 1, 2016

The Director General of Algeria’s National Archives accused the French authorities on Monday of hiding its archive which was smuggled to Paris during the colonial era, Anadolu has reported.

Abdul Majid Sheikhi told his country’s official news agency that France smuggled the Algerian archive between 1961 and 1962. It was kept it in Paris and Aix-en Province near Marseille until five years ago, after which it was distributed to many different places, most of which are unknown to the Algerians.

In 2009, Algeria signed a deal with France which included a temporary solution to hand over a copy of the archive. However, said Sheikhi, France has not fulfilled its part of the agreement. Instead, he claimed, it has told Algeria to take copies only of what is currently needed, not copies of the whole archive.

The government in Paris is also asking Algeria to have a “crippling” number of technicians and experts to deal with the archive. Sheikhi accused the French of “misleading” the Algerians about its whereabouts.

He also noted that the Algerian archive smuggled out of the country by France includes about 60 tons of documents. It not only covers the colonial era, when France occupied Algeria between 1830 and 1962, but also the archive of three centuries of Ottoman rule. The Algerian official rejected the French claim that the Ottoman documents had been returned. He pointed out that only a list of deals had been handed over.

The archive has long been a source of tension between the two countries. Algerian officials have apparently been discussing the issue with their French counterparts ever since independence.

According to Algeria’s Minister of Veterans, Al-Tayyip Zaytouni, his country has received just two per cent of the archive. He stressed that Algeria would return the whole archive, including those documents marked “top secret”.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161101-france-accused-of-hiding-its-archive-smuggled-during-colonial-era/.

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